“Stand Back,” Said the Elephant, “I’m Going to Sneeze!” by Patty Thomas


Children"Stand back," said the elephant, "I'm going to sneeze!" “Stand Back,” Said the Elephant, “I’m Going to Sneeze!”Thomas, Patricia, Patty Thomas; Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books 1990WorldCat

Illustrated by Wallace Tripp

Review by Molly

-Stand back,- said the elephant, -I’m going to sneeze!

I hate to alarm you, But I don’t wish to harm you.
My friends, I fear, Its clear, Oh, dear,
You’d better stand back, I’m going to sneeze.-

The tale begins with a representation of an massive elephant standing on his rear legs

The opening page sets up the story line. Instantly each of elephant’s neighbors begins to tell elephant precisely why they do not want him to sneeze. The reader meets many of the elephant’s friends who are most apprehensive to hear that the elephant is needing to sneeze.

The critters begin to converse, confer, talk about and remind the elephant using child friendly rhythm and rhyme, that he just really must NOT sneeze. The zebra yelled, “Yipes, You’ll blow off my stripes, Plus lots and lots, Of the leopard’s spots, And all of the snakes will be tied up in knots!”

Oh no. Not again. The elephant is going to sneeze.

Catastrophe is at hand, the jungle is in pandemonium.

The last time he sneezed; it was dreadful, just dreadful. Why elephant blew all the stripes off the zebra, and all the fur from the bear. He turned the crocodile’s nose inside out and blew the stings right off the bees. They had to made due with rose thorns and glue. He even blew all the scales from the fish, and the monkeys out of the trees. Featherless birds were forced to walk south and not fly.

An alligator, and a buffalo, bees, and bear, crocodile, fish, giraffe, and hippopotamus, leopard, mouse, parrot, and snakes, and even the zebra are worried. It is going to be mayhem; if the elephant sneezes.

-Oh, please, Not a sneeze,- Said the bear. -Thats not fair. I declare.

The last time he sneezed he blew off all my hair,

And left me so bare I spent the whole winter in long underwear-
Nothing is so sad as a bear that is bare.-

Stand Back,” Said the Elephant, “I’m Going to Sneeze! was a much loved favorite of both of my own children when they were young as well as for the K -1 classes I taught in California.

Sad to say, not too many people have even heard of the book. The premise and rhyme are amusing, words flow in cadenced, and lovely tempo that children adore. Images are a brilliant addition to the account.

For years the first book I read to my students, on the first day of the new school term, is Stand Back,” Said the Elephant, “I’m Going to Sneeze!

I read it in part because, I just plain like the book. I read it too because; in spite of my being a small person, I have a sneeze that will rattle the windows in the next classroom.

I read the book, and the children and I talk about the absurdity of the tale, and I assure the kids they need not fear … when I sneeze I will try not to blow off their stripes.

I get pleasure from reading the book as much as the kids enjoy listening to it being read to them. The book is very repetitious leading to children being drawn right into the fun as they talk nineteen to the dozen along with the reader.

Synonyms like bare and bear, and fun observations like bee’s knees’ are sprinkled into the text.

Following elephant’s pronouncement a tiny gray mouse sets about to save the day. Rising up to full height he demands that the sneezing must stop. And within moments the elephant begins to giggle.

Even before turning the page; you just know there must be a consequence when an begins elephant laugh. And so there is. The unexpected ending always has my first graders animated, giggling and ready to talk.

And, they are mesmerized to learn that elephants really do not care for mice!

“Stand Back,” Said the Elephant, “I’m Going to Sneeze!” is a -read to- book for the 3 – 6 year old set and a -read with help- for 6 -8. The book is written well, holds childrenâ’s interest and is just plain fun to read. I particularly like the illustrations, they are child friendly, my first grade likes them very much

I have always enjoy the read, happy to recommend for the target audience. “Stand Back,” Said the Elephant is a must for the 3 to 8 set, the home, classroom, school and public libraries. Older children in the 9 – 11 group choose the book for reading to the little kids.

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